Numerous studies have supported the importance of educating patients with conditions that feature chronic pain and fatigue. When patients better understand why they have these symptoms and why different types of treatment work, they become more effective partners in managing their illness(es).
In parallel, we educate doctors and health care providers about these illnesses and the most appropriate treatments. In the end, we strive for a partnership between health care providers and patients that makes use of drug and non-drug treatments. It is critically important for patients with this illness to understand that with the currently available drug and non-drug treatments, the overwhelming majority of patients with these illnesses can lead a normal and fulfilling life.
Education can give patients the power to play a significant role in their own health care and well-being. Understanding what is happening inside the brain and body is crucial to understanding how to manage symptoms. Further, knowing what is happening physically will go a long way toward improving how a patient feels emotionally. To that end, this Web site can be a great resource for patients and their families.
Learn about chronic pain and fatigue, including risk factors and who is affected by it.
Learn about Chronic Multisymptom Illnesses, including regional and organ-specific symptoms and syndromes that often accompany fibromyalgia.
Watch Dr. Clauw discuss why chronic pain is processed differently by the brain, and what you can do to improve symptoms and become part of your care team:
This JAMA Review by Dr. Clauw on Fibromyalgia is also a helpful overview.
Once you have a better idea what these illnesses are and what is going on inside your body, there are several actions you can take to improve the quality of your own life, as well as those of your friends and family.
Engage in physical activity. This means moving. Find activities that you enjoy or that fit your lifestyle, balancing heavier activities with lighter activities and slowly increasing the total amount of time you move around and are active in a day will go a long way toward improving your symptoms, your function and your productivity. It also is important to learn your limits and avoid doing too much activity. Overdoing it can cause symptoms to worsen. These guidelines will help you decide when, where, how much and even why you should be physically active.
Learn self-management skills and techniques. Having a selection of symptom management techniques to use in everyday life is key to coping with illness and maintaining function and productivity in the face of adversity. Don’t be caught without these tools in your toolbox!
Participate in a research study. Taking part in research studies is a valuable way for patients, their friends and families, and other healthy people to contribute to the overall understanding of these illnesses and the development or improvement of treatment options. Research volunteers are always needed and very much appreciated! Learn about our ongoing research studies and decide if participation is right for you.
Find a doctor who is familiar with this spectrum of illnesses and its treatment options, or someone who is willing to learn more about these illnesses and work closely with you. Often, this is easier said than done. But it is extremely important for your physical and emotional health. Ask around or attend a local support group meeting to get recommendations from others with these illnesses.
Check out our list of related links, which are websites we believe maintain a high standard of quality information, and are good resources for patients and health care providers.